Posts Tagged ‘consequences of sin’

2 Samuel 15:13-37 (Part 3 of 3)
David Escapes from Jerusalem

As I stated a couple of blogs ago, this series of chapters we are in right now about David and his unruly children could easily be formed into a sermon series about being a father. David shows us in this sequence of chapters, often, what not to do as a dad. Today, we return to that theme of fatherhood. However, this time teaches us, as dads, a valuable lesson of the fact that sometimes we must simply get out of the way and let life teach our children the lessons they need to learn.

With my youngest child, she is now almost 28 years old, I have spent the last few years doing just that – allowing life to teach her the lessons she needs to learn. Often, life lessons learned on our own can teach us so much more than our dads ever could. As I have stated before here, my youngest child never really knew what life was like in a normal household. From the time she was about 2 years old, marital strife was the home that she knew. By the time she was that age, her parents’ marriage (in which God was not the center of it due to our not being Christ followers) was winding its way to its ugly end. Then, after the divorce and my remarriage, I failed her miserably as a dad during the 9 years of my second marriage. Then, while I was single those six years before I married my wonderful and final wife, Elena, I spoiled my youngest girl rotten. Anything she wanted she got. Any immature behaviors were never dealt with. I spoiled her, I admit it, to the point she did not mature as she should have. She was so spoiled that she did not get her first job until she was almost 20 years old. I would bail her out financially at every turn such that she had no incentive to really make something of herself. Her behavior was that of entitlement and expectation that things would be handed to her.

Finally, a few years ago when she was in her mid-twenties, I finally had to say enough is enough after one final act of kindness. We gave her Elena’s car and said this is it. You are on your own now. No more financial assistance. You’ve got to do this yourself. Since that time, she really has not had that much to do with me except when she emerges from her “radio silence” and acts as though she wants to restore our relationship but really she is simply looking for another handout. I have had to show her tough love these last few years. It has pained me terribly. I miss the closeness we once had where she and her crew that she hung around with as teenagers thought I was “the cool dad.” But now, she hardly speaks to me. The last time that I talked to her was probably six months ago in a text exchange by phone. The last time that I talked to verbally was by phone was almost a year ago. The last time that I saw her in person was maybe over a year ago. I hate it. I mean, it is not like I am so angry at her that I do not want to speak to her. I love her so much. But it is by her choice that she does not want to have a real relationship with me anymore. If she showed up here in Illinois at my house right now, I would wrap my arms around her and hold her and cry tears of joy.

However, she did not even come to say goodbye to me the day Elena and left the Upstate of South Carolina to move to northwest Illinois. She has effectively cut me out of her life because I cut her off financially. However, that is how being a dad is sometimes. You have to do things that are going to make your kids hate you at the moment and just let life play out in their lives. It’s not because you hate them. It’s because you love them. Some kids, like my oldest child, who want to become independent and self-sufficient and they will do it. Those kids you can give advice and they will heed it. However, some kids, you just have to let life teach them their lessons that they need to learn. With this type of child, you just sometimes have to quit protecting them and let life happen to them. They may get angry at you for taking the safety net away but you are doing them no maturity favors by keeping the safety net there. You have to take it away, let life happen to them, and just know that you love them regardless of whether they believe that fact or not. That is where I am at with my youngest.

That was the thing that I thought of today when I read this passage for the second time of three readings that I have planned for this passage, 2 Samuel 15:13-37 – that idea that sometimes, as a parent, you just have to step out of the way and let life happen to your kids. Let’s read the passage now:

13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!”

14 “Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!” David urged his men. “Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.”

15 “We are with you,” his advisers replied. “Do what you think is best.”

16 So the king and all his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to look after the palace. 17 The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house 18 to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard.[a]

19 Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20 You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the Lord show you his unfailing love and faithfulness.[b]”

21 But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”

22 David replied, “All right, come with us.” So Ittai and all his men and their families went along.

23 Everyone cried loudly as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness.

24 Zadok and all the Levites also came along, carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God. They set down the Ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices[c] until everyone had passed out of the city.

25 Then the king instructed Zadok to take the Ark of God back into the city. “If the Lord sees fit,” David said, “he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle[d] again. 26 But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him.”

27 The king also told Zadok the priest, “Look,[e] here is my plan. You and Abiathar[f] should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. 28 I will stop at the shallows of the Jordan River[g] and wait there for a report from you.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to the city and stayed there.

30 David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill. 31 When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, “O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!”

32 When David reached the summit of the Mount of Olives where people worshiped God, Hushai the Arkite was waiting there for him. Hushai had torn his clothing and put dirt on his head as a sign of mourning. 33 But David told him, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will be there. Tell them about the plans being made in the king’s palace, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what is going on.”

37 So David’s friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem, getting there just as Absalom arrived.

In this passage, we see that David, knowingly or not, teaches us another lesson in parenting. Here, we see him just get out of the way and begin to let circumstances play themselves out for Absalom. He could have rushed forward with his army and attacked Absalom by surprise and maybe even captured him before he tried to seize the capitol city. He maybe could have saved face for himself and even Absalom. He could have approached this situation by clandestinely meeting with Absalom and pulled the father/king card in a face to face meeting. However, he chose to step aside and let circumstances begin to play out. Eventually, in the coming passages, Absalom proved that he was not ready to be king like he thought he was. Experience was to be a better teacher than any parental lecture could have been.

Often, we must do the same as parents as David has begun doing here. Sometimes, we must let our children learn the facts of life, so to speak, the hard way. And in many ways, this is often how God deals with us as his children. Because He has set boundaries for us (for our own good not because He wants to keep us from doing things), He lets sin and its consequences play out in our lives so that we can learn the price of sin. Many of us are hardheaded because we love our sins and blame God for holding us back from what we want to do. Many of us blame God when we get in a jam and He has not miraculously pulled us out of the consequences of our sins. We get angry at Him for not bailing us out. We get angry at Him but yet it is our sin, our decisions to sin and rebel against Him, that ensnarls us. It is often NOT that God is punishing us but rather it is that sin always has negative consequences. Our sins often cause our pain. Our sins often cause the jams we get into in life. Our sins create these tangled webs of events and decisions in life that bring us to our knees. It is often only through letting our sins play themselves out in our lives that we are ready to kneel before God in all humility and say “Lord I have truly messed up my life and I need your help!” Even when we do that, God will not erase the long-lasting effects of our sins. He will let them play themselves out so that we learn from them and turn from them. It is when we have that a-ha moment that it is ourselves that is the enemy and not God that we are ready to stand before God and beg Him to provide us with the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Some of us are smart and heed God’s Word and accept Christ as our Savior as a young person and follow Him wholeheartedly all of our lives. Some of us are smart in this way and use God’s Word as the standard for their lives from a young age. I admire these folks. They have troubles too but man the impact that such people can have for the kingdom when they follow Jesus from an early age is far beyond what I will ever achieve. Some of God’s children are like me, fools! We lived life hard. Running from God and His Word for most of our lives. Life and the consequences of sin must be our teachers. We learn the hard way from real life examples in our lives of the hard road that sin brings us. For people like me that have to learn the hard way, the road to the cross is long, hard, and filled with cuts, scrapes, bruises, and broken bones. For God’s kids like me, we come to Him only after we have been down the road and find ourselves at the bottom of the valley and have hit rock bottom. I was age 39 when I finally came to my senses and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Man, if I could go back and do it all over again, it would have saved me so much heartache and pain, but that’s the past. My mess is part of my message. I learned the hard way to the cross. But just as I would run to the street to greet my youngest daughter and give her a great big welcome home hug if I saw her right now, God is waiting for you and me with a great big hug and tears of joy…if you will just come home!

Amen and Amen.

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Joshua 13:8-13

The Land Divided East of the Jordan

 

It happens every week somewhere in our country. You see it almost daily it seems from somewhere. Recently, in the news, we have seen a spade of stories about school teachers gone wrong. There have been quite a few female teachers here recently who have been arrested for having sexual relationships with one or more of their teenage male students. We have seen a spade of male teachers who have been arrested for touching female students inappropriately. We have seen male teachers who have invited female students to exchange pornographic photos with them. We condemn them roundly and throw them in jail and, yes, they should pay the consequences of having violated the law and violated the trust that we, as parents, have entrusted them with when it comes even to our children, even our high school age children. The sins of these men and women arrested have certainly been made public and they are often publicly shamed. They are always lose their jobs. They are often sent to prison. They often have to move away from the region where the offenses have occurred even if they are not sent to prison. They often will never be able to teach again. These men and women will often be destroyed by their lapse of morality and straying from the trust that has been placed in them.

 

However, the thing that I keep coming back to when these types of things are exposed is what sins am I hiding from the world? There are none of us who is perfect. I am not saying that we should simply accept what some of these men and women have done to the students under their care. We shouldn’t. We should press that these people get help that they need even if they are in prison. We must see repentance in them before we begin the process of healing with them and restoring. We must see that they are humbling seeking the forgiveness of God and are willing to do anything to cleanse themselves from even having the appearance of continuing in their now very public sin. However what sins are you and I tolerating in our lives?

 

The Israelites were told to completely cleanse the land of the Canaanite peoples, as God’s judgment against their sin. The Israelites however did not complete the job. Yes they conquered all of a Canaan where the former inhabitants no longer had the political power and land that they once had, but they did not completely drive out all the former inhabitants. They tolerated the sin in their midst. They tolerated the pagan lifestyle in their midst. It would come back to haunt them. Just as all these teachers that you hear about hiding their sexual sins from the world, thinking that it’s OK, rationalizing away how it is OK. When we tolerate sin in our lives as if it is OK for us (maybe not others but it is OK for us because we can handle it and keep it hidden), it always, always comes back to haunt us and often has dire consequences.

 

That is what I thought of this morning when I landed on the last verse of this passage that seems so mundane. It was profound in that what the Israelites failed to do to drive out evil is often our own downfall:

 

8 The other half of Manasseh,[a] the Reubenites and the Gadites had received the inheritance that Moses had given them east of the Jordan, as he, the servant of the Lord, had assigned it to them.

 

9 It extended from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge, and from the town in the middle of the gorge, and included the whole plateau of Medeba as far as Dibon, 10 and all the towns of Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, out to the border of the Ammonites. 11 It also included Gilead, the territory of the people of Geshur and Maakah, all of Mount Hermon and all Bashan as far as Salekah— 12 that is, the whole kingdom of Og in Bashan, who had reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei. (He was the last of the Rephaites.) Moses had defeated them and taken over their land. 13 But the Israelites did not drive out the people of Geshur and Maakah, so they continue to live among the Israelites to this day.

 

In this passage, many, if not all, of the names of towns and geographical markers are meaningless to us, but we should not allow these facts to compromise our desire to read this and the next several passages. There is always something that we can learn from each passage (even genealogies, lists, and passages such as this one). It may require us to do a little research from books about the books of the Bible either digitally on the internet or from books we buy or check out. Here, the thing we should take away from this passage is the not so much the sames but what is said in the last verse. In my research on this passage, the one thing that scholars tell you about aside from trying to pinpoint in the modern day world where these places are is that fact that the Israelites failed to drive out the people of Geshur and Maacah.

 

This fact is cited as one of the reasons that the Israelites encountered so many problems later on in the history of ancient Israel. As they settled the land, they failed to fully conquer it and drive out ALL its inhabitants. The cancer-like presence of these pagan idol worshippers caused unending difficulties for the Israelites, as the book of Judges records. Just as they failed to remove sin from the land, believers today often fail to remove sin completely from their lives. As a self-test, we often should re-read the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). We must ask ourselves whether or not we are tolerating or even reveling in sinful practices. We must ask ourselves whether or not we are harboring sin in our minds or actions and calling it OK just because we have not been exposed yet. We must ask ourselves whether we condemn others whose sins have been found out but yet say our pet sins are still private and not yet public.

 

While we do not condone what has happened with these female teachers with male students and what has happened with male teachers and female students, we must take these situations as warning signs to our own lives and the sins that we are harboring as OK behavior – mainly because we haven’t gotten caught yet. All of our sins start in our mind as rationalizations as to why it would be OK at least just one time. Certainly that’s how we slide down that slippery slope to the places that these male and female teachers have found themselves. Sin, even when tolerated in the mind and is allowed to fester often brings on the physical act of the sin. Jesus told us that even when we tolerate sin in our mind we have already sinned. Jesus knew that tolerating sin in our mind always leads to action.

 

So, before, we become high and mighty about those whose sins are flung out into the open in a very public way, we should rather take this as an opportunity to examine ourselves deeply for the sins that we are tolerating in our lives. None of us is without sin not even one. What sins are you harboring? Lust? Greed? Murderous thoughts? Hatred? Sexual deviance? Pride? Let us take these situations as clarion calls to examine ourselves. When we truly look at ourselves and what sins we may be harboring in our lives as OK then maybe we can be less haughty and judgmental when it comes to these folks whose sins have been made broadly public. Maybe, we can pray that, though they will rightly pay for the consequences of their sin for the rest of their lives, they will be become humbled and repentant before the Lord. Maybe, we can pray that they will seek the Lord’s help in eradicating this sin from their lives. Maybe, we can pray that they will gladly do whatever it takes to change and to seek restoration to right-standing in society. Maybe, we can pray that the Holy Spirit will take this as an opportunity to convict us of our own pet sins that we refuse to give up simply because they have not been made public…yet.

 

Amen and Amen.

Joshua 7:16-26

Achan’s Sin

Although my first wife had been addicted to drugs that made my life a living hell cleaning up her messes both literal and figurative and although she had an affair during the height of her drug abuse that I had forgiven but that had changed my feeling toward her from love to responsibility and although after she got clean she transferred addictions to spending money causing me to have to chase bad checks all over town, it was my affair that crashed our marriage. It was my affair that seemed to have the most side effects. Although my affair was legitimized after my divorce was final and my paramour became my second wife, it was my affair for which I am responsible.

 

I can give you a hundred reasons for why it was OK for me. I had suffered so much with my first wife. Sure, we had some good years but those years quickly paled into surrealistic nightmare of drug abuse, arrests, near arrests, forking out money for lawyers and for rehabilitative care, cleaning up after her, literal burning of beds because she persisted in smoking in bed at night while zonked out of her mind on painkillers and God knows what else. There were threats on my life by her when it fits of rage such as threatening to drop a running hairdryer in the shower with me in it. All of these things should be good enough reasons for anyone to DESERVE to find peace and solace in another woman’s arms. After marrying my first wife when I was eighteen years old in 1980 and then suffering through all the pain and heartache of my first marriage, I began having an on again/off again affair in 1991. That began the inexorable decline of my first marriage to its ugly end in 1993.

 

The consequences of that decision to have an affair, even though I felt justified and even though others wondered why it didn’t happen sooner, were far reaching. When my first wife and I split up for good in April 1993, it started years of ripples of cause and effect that really did not end until my second wife and I split up in 2004. There were the harassing phone calls. There were the claims that I had molested my oldest daughter that I had to defend myself against. There were confrontations between my first wife and my second wife. There was DSS involvement in our lives after the molestation charges and eventually led DSS to see that my first wife was a woman who had gone off the deep end. Her emotional instability led DSS to remove my two girls from her care. It led eventually to my daughters living with my parents for over two years. It led to me being awarded custody after all that. It led to my first wife undermining my and my second wife’s authority with the girls. It led to your kids vs. my kids jealousies on the part of my second wife. It led me to have to almost ignore my own children to keep the peace with my second wife. It led to this high level of tension about our kids between my second wife and me to the point that our marriage was irrevocably damaged by it. Although my first wife finally remarried and backed off some of her craziness toward me, she hated me, was always in competition with me, measured her life by what the kids were doing for her or for me as the sign of their love. She loathed me until the day she died in July 2015, at age 55, a shell of the woman she once was, a woman consumed by hate.

 

The consequences of that decision to have the affair, even though it seemed as the right thing for me, personally, a kind of take that to hand in life that I had been dealt and even though I was madly in love with the woman who became my second wife, the whole thing had its effects on my children. I will never forget the day that my first wife and I broke up for good (and it is was probably a good thing from a physical safety standpoint that we separated because things had escalated to the point of physical violence). I will never forget seeing my oldest daughter, at this time 8 years old, holding her little 2 ½ year old sister, crying as I was packing my clothes into the car. I will never forget that pain that I saw. That started in motion a period of time that my oldest daughter actually at age 8 became head of their household (her mom, her sister, her). Their mom came so unglued over the next several years that my oldest daughter had to grow up way too fast. She was a mother to her mom and to her sister. She plowed down whatever she was feeling inside just to survive in her mom’s household. Her sister, just in those formative years of age two, three and four never really knew anything other than chaos, as a result of the change that happened that April 1993 day. To this day, each outwardly displays the effects of what happened during those years after April 1993. My oldest seeks stability in life. She wants family. She wants to fix things so that everyone gets along. She is too mature still for her age, at age 32. My youngest who never knew nothing but constant change and chaos from the time she can remember things is now age 26 and seems to just be living life on the edge and everything is everyone else fault for the state of her life. She lets life defeat her rather than embolden her. I worry deeply about her future.

 

It was this idea of the ripple effects of sin that came to mind and how others get washed up in the wake of our sins was what I thought about as I read about Achan’s sin this morning. Let’s read the passage together now:

 

16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen. 17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.

 

19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

 

20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

 

22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.

 

24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”

 

Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore, that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

 

In this passage, we see that Achan underestimated God and didn’t take His commands seriously (Joshua 6:18). Taking a robe, along with some silver and gold, may have seemed a small thing to Achan, but the effects of his sin were felt by the entire nation, especially his family. Like Achan, our actions affect more people than just ourselves. Beware of the temptation to rationalize your sins by saying they are too small and too personal to hurt anyone but you. Beware also of trying to rationalize away your sin because of trying to make yourself happy (I deserve this! God just wants me to be happy! I have a right to have this affair because my spouse is the way he/she is!). If it is contradictory to God’s direct commands or is inconsistent with the theology of the Bible, then, it is sin. Sin has its consequences. Sin is a cancer that affects more than just us alone. We wonder why Achan’s whole family was stoned here. That seems so drastic. However, we must remember that there were families of the 3,000 men that were impacted by Achan’s sin too. Many of the 3,000 probably lost their lives and their families are suffering loss because of what Achan did. To us this punishment seems unfair, but think about how our families often pay the price for our sins.

 

When I look at my own life, I can see now when I look back at those crucial years beginning in 1991 and continuing through 2004, all of it revolves around my decision to start a relationship with a woman who was not my wife. Although she became my wife later, she was not my wife at the time. It was adultery. Although this woman made me feel normal again and safe again and loved and although most people who know me during my marriage to my first wife would say hell yeah Mark had a right to do what he did, it was adultery. It was sin. No matter how what. I look back on it now and no longer try to justify it. The impact of that affair was freaking enormous. That affair, though justified in my mind, caused sin ripple effects on my life that were felt for 13 years. That affair, though it got me out of a marriage that probably would have ended with my death at the hands of a woman who had lost control, had effects on my children that still resound today. Adultery is a sin for a reason. God says it is because people get hurt and it defiles marriage. It creates sex outside the marriage covenant that leads to disastrous consequences. We live in a society where the social fabric is deteriorating rapidly because of unrestrained sex. God says it sin so it is so. God does not give us rules because he wants to keep us from doing things. He is God and He knows the impacts that sinful actions have on our lives. That’s why He has commandments for us. Because He knows what’s bad for us, bad for society, and what ripple effects are of each kind of sin. I am a walking, living, breathing testament to the ripple effects of sin – even when we think it is OK for us because of our circumstances. I am a testament to the fact that sin is sin no matter how you justify it.

 

So if you are married and you don’t like the spot that your marriage is in, and some girl is rubbing up against you, before you take the bait, think! Even if you feel justified by worldly standards and by the court of public opinion of your friends and confidants, think! Sin is sin no matter how you slice it. Whatever sin you are contemplating, but particularly adultery, think before you pass those boundaries from which you can never return. Think! Are you ready for the fallout of your sin? There is always fallout. Somebody gets hurt. Always the children. Think! Flee from sin. Adultery is an atomic bomb that leaves the landscape scarred and leaves people damaged.

 

Just as Achan’s sin destroyed his family. Just as my sin, though justified in my mind, was sin and it had such astounding effects on me and my kids, so is the sin that you are justifying in your mind right now is OK. Sin is Sin. Sin always has atomic bomb consequences on our lives.

 

Is it worth the atomic bomb and the aftermath? Flee from it before the bomb is released on your life. Flee from it! Now!

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 4:15-31 (Part 2 of 3)

A Warning Against Idolatry

There are decisions that you made in your past that still effect you today. We all have those fateful decisions that hang over you for years or even decades. We all have them. I have them. You have them. What is your one? That one decision that you would like to have back. You made it. You have had to live with it and its consequences. There are those decisions that you have made that were poor decisions and, even though you have recovered from them, they altered the direction of your life forever.

 

For me, you would have to go back to a decision to let my kids, after having gained custody of them, go back and live with their mother after only one year of living with me and what was then my second wife. After my first wife and I split up, she went bonkers for a while. She became totally consumed with the break-up of our marriage and hatred for me and my new wife. For the first three years after our break-up, she was obsessed with making my life difficult as payback for leaving her as if making my life difficult would make me want to return to her. Because of her insane behavior, DSS got involved in our lives and finally the kids were remove from Lisa’s care. They lived temporarily with my parent. And finally, in 1996, the girls were awarded to me and my second wife, Trena. However, that began what I call the year from hell. Although Trena reveled in having this victory over Lisa and I was just glad to give the girls a stable home, Trena and I had little training in how to make a blended family work. Certainly, Lisa did not help matters with her clandestine efforts to destroy our family through the games she played through the girls. However, I did not realize how blended family jealousies raise their ugly head and could ruin a marriage even without Lisa’s help. Trena had three boys and I had my two girls. We were a family of seven. Boys from Trena. Girls from me. I always wondered what would have happened if the situation was reversed, but this was the hand that was dealt. I don’t know if you have ever rather raised both boys and girls, but disciplining them is different. It just is. That created jealousies. I had to be harder on the boys because prior to my coming on the scene, they had little if any discipline at all. On the other hand, if Lisa and I did anything right, it was how we disciplined the girls with consistency. They learned early on that the rules were the rules and there was no bending them. The boys on the other hand had rules made of rubber, bent all the time. So, jealousies came from me being on the boys all the time and not on the girls. Further, with the girls, you could pretty much tell them once not to do something and that was it whereas with the boys, it would be repetition not to do the same thing over and over and over.

 

We became two camps – Trena and her boys, me and my girls. It was hellacious as the year progressed. Trena and I would fight often about the differences in treatment, about what one set of kids had that the other set didn’t. And, at that time in my life, I was ruled by sexual approval. My self-worth came from how much access I was being granted by my wife. I lived and died then by how she felt about me. Everything was measured by whether it would make her angry enough to cut off access to my validation in the bedroom. Every decision was made with that in mind. So, as things began to escalate with the blended family jealousies, Trena became a series of land mines to me and I was tenderly walking around the mine field waiting trying to make sure that I did not step on one to make things explode between me and her. But it all came to boiling point eventually. Lisa had finally settled down after getting remarried, finally. With me trying to keep the peace at home and keep Trena happy, it seemed like the best alternative for my girls to let them return home to live with their mother. They would be able to leave the house of tension and mine fields. It was a decision that everything turns on.

 

For in order for my girls to live with their mother, we would go from receiving child support from Lisa to paying child support to Lisa. It was going to amount to about a $800 per month swing in our family budget to the negative. It was going to be noticeable. However, instead of being honest with my wife about the truth of our finances, I began making foolish financial decisions at work and otherwise to keep giving Trena the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. That was my trump card with her was that I was able to give her such a better standard of living than her previous husband and how she had been forced to live since their breakup. So, if I lost the ability to give her that, I would not be special. I would lose that approval. I would lose that bedroom approval that I measured my life by. These decisions all came to a head eventually and cost me my job, that led to a separation for 9 months, that led to more foolish financial decisions, that I carried back quietly into our relationship when we reconciled.

 

Further, when I came back into the relationship after we reconciled, I came back with my oldest daughter, now 16. Meghan had come to live with me while Trena and I were separated. However, the old jealousies about my kids eventually reared their head again after Meghan went off to college two years later. After Trena’s son passed away in an accident, and when Meghan began having those final high school things like junior and senior proms, graduation plans, senior trips, and graduation, it seemed this jealousy reared its head again. It became especially fierce when Meghan went off college. College costs more than tuition and I had to begin hiding my financial assistance to Meghan so that I could keep the peace at the house and keep my bedroom approval going. It was my chameleon nature to keep everyone happy. I wanted Meghan to enjoy her college experience and I wanted to keep my wife happy. Fateful financial decisions finally came to a head. The conflict between my need to care for my child at college and my need for bedroom approval from my wife came to head and the marriage came crashing down for good. After we read the passage, I will tell you how things worked out, but as you can see, the decision to let my girls go back and live with their mother and how I choose to handle set two precedents in the marriage that caused its undoing – one was that leadership of the marriage was ceded to Trena and two that I would do anything to keep her happy. That decision and its results has had its effect on my life for many years after. Our sins can have long lasting effects.

 

Those fateful decisions that we make that have long-ranging effects is what came to mind when I read through the passage, Deuteronomy 4:15-31, this morning. For today, let’s look at it from the perspective of my illustration for today, how our sins can affect us long after their commission:

 

15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.

 

21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. 22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

 

25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.

 

Here in this passage, we see that God is a devouring fire. Because He is morally perfect and pure, He hates sin and cannot accept those who practice it. Moses’ sin of disobedience when it came to the “water episode” in Numbers 20. It was flat out disobedience by Moses. He had grown so tired of leading these whiny babies known as the Israelites, that he struck the rock and made it about him rather than commanding the rock to give forth water (making it about God). Moses was prevented from entering the Holy Land as a consequence even though they arrived at the Promised Land years later. Nothing Moses could do to change that. He had to live with the consequences of his sin.

 

In my case, yes, there is that one decision. That one decision that has an affect on your future. You have to live it. My second marriage ended for issues about money, sex, and you name it. It was a marriage destined for failure because God was not in it from the beginning and I had made a person my god. Tracing back to that decision to let the girls go back and live with their mom set a course of action that led me to where I am today.

 

Sin keeps us from entering God’s presence and it has long lasting effects on us. However, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and removed God’s judgment from us forever through His death on the cross. He redeems our lives through His resurrection so that we have hope for the future. Trusting in Jesus will save us from God’s anger allow you to begin to redeem your life from the mistakes, the sins, and the consequences of those sins. Sometimes the consequences of sin follow us after salvation but God is working in and redeeming it.

 

For me, the course of life rooted in decisions made in the late nineties led to where I am today. God redeemed the mistakes. Without the results, I would not have moved to Rock Hill. I would not have met Elena and would not have married her. We would not have then moved to California. Elena would not have met Luke and Felisha and maybe her walk to the cross would not have happened when it did or maybe not at all. We would not have moved back to South Carolina and we would not become servants of the Lord in the manner in which we pursue Him now. God can redeem all the mistakes that you have made. He can do it through your giving your life and your plans over to Jesus Christ. He can redeem your mistakes and make them part of your ministry to the world. Your mistakes can lead others to the cross.

 

It is all part of His plan. I can vouch for it. He has redeemed my life. My valleys followed me for a long time after salvation. But it was all to make me appreciate the high dry place I stand right now. I have a great wife who loves me. I have a great job that I do really appreciate and do not take for granted. I have my church service to the Lord that I dearly love. All that would never be appreciated if it were not for the valleys of my sins of my past that Ied me to where I am today. It’s all good! God redeemed it. God uses it. And it is not lost on me how He has changed my life and lifted me up from my sin and put me on safe, dry, and high ground.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 20:1-13 (Part 2)

Water from the Rock

As many of you who read my blogs, you know that I am a really passionate Clemson Tigers fan. As any of you who follow college football know, Clemson has been very successful on the football field over the past five year and there success at present is only surpassed by the success of the football program during the late seventies through the early 90s, and then again back during the decade of the 1950s. However, the current success if continued at its current pace, it will become the new glory days of Clemson football. Beginning with the 2011 season, they have won 60 games while losing only 12, an 83.3% winning percentage. As well, just since the 2012 season including the first four games of this season, they have a 50-8 records, an 85% winning percentage. Even more impressive is the fact that over the last 29 games (since the end of the third game of the 2014 season), the Tigers are 27-2, a 93% winning percentage. Very impressive.

 

Yet, with the beginning of this, the 2016 season, there were sky high expectations for the Tigers, particularly on offense, where they had virtually the entire group of starters from last year back. This offensive unit, last year, had ended the season as almost an unstoppable force. So, this year, there was an expectation that they would pick up exactly where they had left off, a team that was within 5 points of winning a national championship. However, with the exception of a perfect first half against Georgia Tech, the offense has seemed inconsistent and unable to do what was necessary to put other teams away. They seemed unable to put together a string of consistent scoring drives. All of this lead to a lot of grumbling among the Clemson faithful as well as among the national media. The seemingly inconsistent play has cost the Tigers anywhere from 1 to 3 spots in the national polls. Starting the season ranked #2 only behind #1 Alabama, the Tigers have fallen to #3 in one national poll and to #5 in the other. However, at the same time, Clemson is 4-0. They are undefeated. At this same point last year, they have actually scored the same amount of points as they did last year at this point (134) and their defense actually seems better this year than last. It is all a matter of perceptions and expectations, I think. This same team started off slowly last year and built toward the national championship contender that it became by season’s end. I think we forget that as Tiger fans. This year we have seen other teams be offensive juggernauts from the get-go such as Alabama and Louisville and so on while the Tigers have seemingly struggled to generate big numbers.

 

As Tiger fans, we have grown accustomed to a high level of play and now complain about how many points we are scoring rather than enjoying the fact that we are still undefeated so far this season. Not too many years ago during that long dry spell of mediocrity between 1993-2009, we would have been extremely happy to be 4-0 right now, winning two road games already in places that we have rarely won over the years (at Auburn and at Georgia Tech). We would be grateful for the success. However, now after being one of the winningest college programs over the past five and one-third seasons, we start to see the problems rather that the successes. We are knit-picking and saying that the sky is falling rather than enjoying being 4-0 and ranked in the top 5 for a long time now. Myself, I believe that the Tigers can do better for sure. However, I am grateful that my favorite team has found ways to get the wins so far this season. I am thankful for the fact that our defense has really been the star this year. And, some football philosopher once said, “offense fills the stands but defense wins championships!” I guess we will find out who this 2016 Tiger team really is this weekend when they face another Top 5 team, Louisville, in a ACC showdown game, but nonetheless, in order for this to have become a big game, the Tigers have had to have remained unbeaten. For all their imperfections so far this season, they are undefeated and thus had made this game with Louisville a big one.

 

As my wife reads this blog, I am sure she is yawning about all the football commentary, but I think the comparison of the detractors of the 2016 version of the Clemson Tiger football team and how the Israelites were complaining against their leadership.

 

Let’s read Numbers 20:1-13 together for a second time this morning:

 

20 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

 

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

 

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

 

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

 

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

 

13 These were the waters of Meribah,[a] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.

 

What I want us to walk away with this morning is the fact that we must keep things in perspective. Here, in this passage, we see the Israelites grumbling again. Yes, grumbling again. They see what they don’t have instead of what they do have. They are alive right now and over the past 40 years because of the provision of God. He has never failed to provide for His people, but yet they complain at every turn. This is wrong and that is wrong. Nothing is good enough. Sure, we sit here reading God’s Word and say, “You idiots! Can’t you see what God has done for you!” However, we cannot speak with such derision towards the Israelites because, are we not the same? We complain about not having more than we have because we are caring more about what others have than being thankful for God’s specific provision for us in our life – not someone’s else life. We complain about our situations too when we fail to realize that our situation is of our own making.

 

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of their own sin. They failed to obey the Lord and thus the wandering for 40 years in the wilderness was their just punishment. We whine and complain at where we are in our relationship. Have we ever thought that our condition is caused by our own disobedience to God? Often our disobedience to God’s Word leads us to consequences that are difficult for us to deal with and we whine and complain about how things got this way. Wake up! We put ourselves in these positions and we need to accept responsibility for them and do what is necessary to get through our consequences of sin. Let us learn to be obedient to God’s Word and work our way through the valleys of the shadow of death that we have created for ourselves. Let us learn to find joy in that journey. Let us realize and learn from our mistakes. Let us find the joy in finding a flower in the midst of the storm. Let us be thankful that God is still providing for us. Let us be thankful that He has not cast us aside. Let us be thankful that He provides even when we are disobedient. Let us take our lumps and learn from them. Let us take heed on being obedient going forward so that we do not have experience the consequences of sin going forward. Let us be thankful for what God has done for us even though He has allowed consequences to occur that were of our own making. Let us change and be thankful for His provision. Instead of complaining about what a friend or a spouse or a coworker is not doing because of the fact that we have both done things to cause distrust, let us realize that we played a role in the relationship getting to where it is and become the change we seek. Become obedient to the Lord and seek to love despite fear. Let us be the ones that seek obedience to God regardless of the situation. God provides when we are obedient. It may take time to work through the problems caused by our sin but the first step is being thankfully obedient to a God who always provides.

 

Just as Clemson fans need to keep in perspective that the Tigers are being successful though it might not be pretty, they are being successful. The victories have come. The team is undefeated. It might not be in the fashion that we have come accustomed to where it was easy and seemed a thing of precision and beauty. We cannot grumble for the way it is being done. We should remember the days when we simply celebrated victory and not how it was done. We, too, must realize that God is our provider and He will provide for us. It may not always be the way we like. All of us have created circumstances that we whine and complain about but yet we forget that it was our own disobedience to the Lord that caused things to look and smell as they do right now. But has God ever stopped providing for you? Are you not experiencing victory simply by not being completely destroyed for our disobedience? God is there for us and is providing for us. He loves us and provides for us even while He allows us to experience the consequences of our sin.

 

Let us be thankful for God being with us in the storm. Let us be thankful that we have a God who loves us despite our sins. Let us be thankful that He provides for us even when we are disobedient. Let us see that provision and be thankful for it. Let us see that obedience will lead us out of the wilderness. Instead of complaining about why we are in the wilderness and why things are not perfect like we want them, let us see the wilderness of our own making. Let us see that our sins have caused the wilderness. Let us see that our way out of the wilderness begins with our own obedience to God and not someone else’s. Let us see that obedience to the Lord is the key. Let us quit complaining about our condition and begin seeing the wonders of God’s provision even in the storm. Let us quit complaining about our condition and get to the business of being obedient to the Lord. Then, the blessings will flow. Let us quit whining and complaining and begin being obedient to the Lord. Let’s get to work on that!

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 12:1-16 (Part 2 of 2)

The Complaints of Miriam and Aaron Against Moses

I have used this illustration before but it seems so appropriate here that I must use it again. Back when I was about to turn 14 years old, in the Summer of 1976, I was a happy camper just living the life of a popular kid at Lakeside Middle School in Anderson, SC. I had just finished my 8th grade year at the school and was about to move up to the 9th grade at Westside High School. In my 8th grade year at the middle school in this town that we had lived in since the summer of 1974, I was really coming into my own. I was a big man on campus. I was in the “in-crowd”. I had some really close friends and a ton of acquaintances. The girls there thought I was one of the cutest boys in school and at age thirteen I was really discovering girls and found out that kissing them and making out with them gave me this wonderful feeling that was about the coolest thing ever! We were going to be moving that June. It was to be the middle of the month after when had finished the school year in early June.

 

Previously, in all our moves as a Methodist preacher’s family, I was too young to care or object to any of the moves. But now in the summer of ’76, I was 13 years old, a teenager, and would turn 14 just two months away in late August. This time, the move was traumatizing. I was going to be cut out of social circle that I dearly loved. I hated the fact that we moved. I didn’t want it all. If there was any way that I could stay in Anderson, I would have. There was just no way. In Anderson, I had everything. I had a best friend in Donnie Garrison. We did everything together. We were inseparable. At school, I had a lot of really good friends that I used to hang out with at the malls and at sporting events. I had a lot of female friends that I flirted with and would go steady with (as much as 13 year olds can go steady) for weeks (at 13, going steady with a girl for more than a couple of weeks was a big deal). I was popular at the school and was involved in the drama club, was on the middle school football team, and was a key player on my church league basketball team. I was connected. Even when I got in trouble at school, the principal was a friend of the family from church so going to the principal’s office was meeting a friend not a death sentence. It was just a fun time in my life. Everything was going great.

 

Then, it happened. We moved to a city that even its name was an irritation to me. Who names their town “Travelers Rest”? It sounded like a rest stop on the highway. But, yes, there is a town in South Carolina named Travelers Rest just north of Greenville, SC. I will live it to you to google and find the history of the town. It was there, to me, that I was being sentenced to the wilderness. In 2016, this little town of Travelers Rest is the next chic suburb of Greenville. Everybody wants to live there now as sits nestled just below the beginning of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It certainly has natural beauty galore in this unique setting. However, in 1976, it was just a small town. It was town where everybody knew everybody and they distrusted anyone who did not grow up there. It was my Patmos Island. I hated it that summer. I was heartbroken. Anderson was only an hour away but to a thirteen year old boy, it might as well been a million miles away. I did not want to be there. My anger at the move took on grave proportions.

 

One of those summer weeks before school started in the fall, I had my friend Donnie, from Anderson, up for a week to hang out with me. We were a mischievous set. Back in Anderson, since he lived out at the lake, we would hang out at his place which was a four acre small farm right on Lake Hartwell. We had fun exploring the woods all the time. We would enjoy finding stuff and figuring out ways to blow it up or burn it. We were the quintessential mischievous boys. So, of course, in Travelers Rest, I lived right in town, near the business district of this small town. And we were mischievous. Business districts and mischievous 13 year olds are not a good combination. We spent the first few days stealing bubble gum from convenience stores. Exploring the woods behind dad’s church. Shooting bee bee guns at birds. Throwing rocks at whatever we could throw rocks at. Then, that day came. We got the idea that it would be cool to vandalize Travelers Rest Elementary School. We decided that pulling the incoming phone wires out of the junction box at the main office of the school would be cool. We got caught. We got arrested. Worse than that, yeah, worse than that, I got in trouble with my dad. He was the brand new preacher in town and what does his youngest son do within the first month of his arrival in town. He gets arrested for vandalizing the local elementary school.

 

Fast forward to our trial date, which because we were juveniles in Greenville County, SC at the time, meant a private meeting with the judge. Little known to me and Donnie, my dad and his dad had paid to have the phone system at the school repaired. However, they did not tell us that. They had worked out a deal with the school district that if they would pay for the repairs the district would not press the vandalism charges against us. But our dads let us think that we were facing being sent to teenager prison in South Carolina, the John G. Richards School for Boys in Columbia (or JGR as it was known by every boy in the state). I am certain it does not exist anymore in the coddled child world in which we live now but it was a reality then. I had heard rumors about how rough that place was and we were looking at a sentence of at least 6 months there. And, by all rights, we knew that we deserved that punishment that would going to be the toughest thing we ever did to that point in our lives. However, at the trial the judge tells us that we needed to thank our dad for paying the price for our crime. He told us that the charges against had been dropped because of the kindness of my dad and Donnie’s dad. We were free (at least from the law, maybe not from our dads). We were not going to go the hellhole of JGR, the fear of all teenage boys in South Carolina. We did not have to pay for our crime by going to hell, the hell that was JGR.

 

Our dads had shown us loving mercy. Although they could have easily let us, in their anger at us (and yes they were angry and they did make the rest of our summer just whole loads of fun), let us be sentenced to a place that would have made us into God knows what. They paid the price for our crime so that we would not have to suffer the likes of JGR. They showed us mercy that we did not deserve. My dad, Donnie’s dad, could have just washed their angry hands of us and let us go to teen prison. We did suffer the consequences of our sins at the hands of our fathers at home but they did not let us pay for our sins permanently (a criminal record and a visit to JGR would follow you the rest of your life).

 

It reminds me of the mercy shown to Miriam in this passage that we read today for the second and final time, Numbers 12:1-16:

 

12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

 

3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

 

4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:

 

“When there is a prophet among you,

    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,

    I speak to them in dreams.

7

But this is not true of my servant Moses;

    he is faithful in all my house.

8

With him I speak face to face,

    clearly and not in riddles;

    he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

    to speak against my servant Moses?”

 

9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

 

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

 

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”

 

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

 

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.

 

Spitting in someone’s face was considered the ultimate insult in this society (and it certainly is still insulting today but the insult was of a higher offense than even today back in the ancient Middle East). It was a sign of shame imposed on wrongdoers. Remember, in Matthew 26:67, the religious leaders at Jesus’ so-called trial spat in His face to degrade and insult Him in the highest possible way. It was the Jewish way of saying that you are lower and less worthy than the dirt on the ground on which I normally spit. It was a deep insult according to ancient Middle Eastern customs. God punished Miriam for smug attitude not only toward Moses but toward God Himself. He struck her with leprosy. Since she bucked the authority of God, it would seem that this punishment was quite lenient. A week was the length of time she would be excluded from camp if someone had spit in your face. How much more did she deserve for standing against the authority of God. But yet, God was merciful to her. He could have struck her down where she stood and she would have been no more and she would have suffered the ravages of hell for thumbing her nose at God. But no, God was merciful.

 

What we see here is that Miriam did suffer the consequences of her sin by being struck with a skin rash and being excluded from the fellowship of the nation of Israel for a time, but God restored her fully after that time. She did not get the punishment she deserved from a just and righteous God. She was granted new life by a loving and merciful God. We do often have to live with the consequences of our sins in life but, through Christ’s mercy on the cross (taking the punishment we deserve), we do not have to pay the eternal price of condemnation to eternity in hell. We are redeemed from the hell we deserve and we are restored to good standing in the presence of the Father through Jesus Christ.

 

Just as Donnie and I were shown mercy by our earthly fathers, just as Miriam was shown mercy by God, we too are shown mercy eternally through our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

 

Do you think your crimes against God are too great to be forgiven? Do you think that you are too far gone? Do you think that you do not deserve God’s love? Think again. No matter what you have done, if you repent of your sins and call on the name of Jesus as your Savior and Lord and believe that He paid the price for your sins on the cross, then you will be shown mercy. You will be restored to God’s family. No longer will you be outside the camp. Call on Jesus’ name. Receive your mercy!

 

Amen and Amen.